West Vancouver’s First ‘Green Lane’

Green lane at the st. francis-in-the-woods church

The District of West Vancouver Engineering and Parks Departments have constructed West Vancouver’s first green lane adjacent to St. Francis in the Woods Church in historic Lower Caulfeild. 

According to Brent Dozzi, Transportation Manager, “Both the lane and parking area were initially re-graded and profiled allowing for the placement of a synthetic material called “Golpla®.”  Golpla® is a rigid, high quality plastic grass/gravel reinforcement and erosion control system which permits the infiltration of rainwater.”

Green lane at the st. francis-in-the-woods church

“The lane was ultimately finished with grass along the center line and shoulders of the lane and gravel along each wheel path”, continued Brent Dozzi,  “The shoulders were then landscaped and a split rail fence installed thereby accentuating the 'natural look'.” 




The Caulfeild area is distinguished from most other West Vancouver neighbourhoods because it has a recorded history that dates back to the late 1800s. Furthermore, the form of development for more than 100 years has reflected and respected the 'design with nature' vision of the man who founded this community, namely: Francis Caulfeild. His land holdings at one time extended up the mountainside as far as Cypress Falls.

In 1926, Francis Caulfeild received a Certificate of Good Citizenship from the District Council for the manner in which he had developed “a beautiful section of the municipality”.


Who was Francis Caulfeild?

Francis Caulfeild, an Englishman of independent means, a scholar and lover of nature, was West Vancouver’s first planner and developer.

Francis caulfeild (240 pixels)He was descended from Anglo-Irish Gentry who had fought the Spanish Armada with Drake (1588), participated in the plantation of Ulster, served Country, Church and Empire, and designed the village of Moy (County Tyrone) modeled on Marengo, Italy.

He landed at Skunk (Caulfeild) Cove in 1898. “Here is a spot they shall not spoil”.  Inspired by the forested landscape he determined to create “a village of beauty with wise restrictions” in harmony with nature.

He purchased hundreds of acres of land between the waterfront and Cypress Falls. Over a period of thirty five years (1899 to 1934) he set the development pattern of the Caulfeild area and established the character of Clovelly-Caulfeild neighbourhood.

He donated over 60 acres to the District for waterfront and other public parks, and gave land for St Francis in the Woods Anglican Church and a nursing home.

He promoted city planning as both a science and an art, of vital importance to the welfare of the community.


Francis Caulfeild's Principles and Practice

Caulfeild’s planning ideas were shaped by his English birthplace Clovelly, and neighbouring villages nestling on the rocky coast of Devon and Cornwall. They were also influenced by his experience of London and big cities, and mirrored the contemporary thinking of the Garden City and City Beautiful movements.

In 1918, as the First World War was drawing to a close and Canadians were turning their attention to postwar city building, Francis Caulfeild submitted an essay to the President of the newly-established UBC on “The Philosophy of Town Planning”.  He urged the University to take a leading role in developing the principles and practice of planning in Canada.

Drawing examples from great world cities his essay stipulated that city planning is both a science and an art.  Cities simply cannot be laid out on a grid mechanically ignoring natural features and future growth. They need to be designed in harmony with the laws of nature.

He wrote that “to ignore these natural features is a wilful waste of forces and opportunities ready to one’s hand, but to ignore them in a situation like that of Vancouver, where mountains, fiords, rivers and forests exist in profusion, waiting for intelligent use, is a crime against nature and society.”

“As a city cannot be made in complete disregard of the tendencies of individual inhabitants, so it is impossible for individuals to locate and build their homes in complete disregard of the general convenience.”

He thought that well built cities meet both physical and psychological criteria. They satisfy the material well-being of the inhabitants, and allow contemplation, a contented state of mind, and an inspiration to excellence.

He put his philosophy into practice planning and developing Caulfeild. As his sales brochure put it; “This beautiful property has been laid out with the special object of preserving the natural beauties of the site, thus giving opportunities for pleasant homes among unusually picturesque surroundings”.


Acknowledgement: West Vancouver Archives photo (004.WVA.CAU) of Francis William Caulfeild seated outside the Pilot House, Caulfeild, BC, circa 1923.



Posted February 2007